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Promoting Academic Achievement through Social and

Susan Notes: [This is your local 'rentasusan' speaking:]This is another one of those research studies that those of us who have taught beaucoup years say 'oh duh' about. At least now there is a research base for what most of us always knew. "They argue that academics should integrate social and emotional learning core competencies such as: Self Awareness; Social Awareness; Self
Management; Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision Making."

In this day of high-stakes testing, educators
are eager and even anxious to find new policies,
instructional methods, and educational practices
to improve academic performance. In their search
they have reexamined such policies as teacher
certification, school choice, grade retention, summer school, and the latest pedagogies for teaching particular academic subjects. Increasingly,however,educators and policymakers are also discovering the importance of social and emotional variables for academic performance and achievement. Consequently, they are turning their attention to methods and practices that foster students' social and emotional development. Acknowledging the importance of social and emotional variables is one thing. Really understanding their critical role and developing social
and emotional skills among students are different matters. What teacher has not felt the frustration of working with a capable student who has neither the motivation nor the perseverance to perform to capacity? What teacher has not felt that he or she could teach better, and his or her students learn better, in caring, supportive school and classroom environments? Teachers have long
recognized, and a body of research now corroborates,that facilitating student achievement means addressing barriers to learning. Many of these barriers are social and emotional.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Defined
Social and emotional competence refers to
the capacity to recognize and manage emotions,
solve problems effectively, and establish and
maintain positive relationships with others (see
sidebar, next page). Social and emotional competence and the learning environments that support their development have been shown to
enhance academic performance in various direct
and indirect ways (Zins et al. in press). SEL programming in schools, when carried out systematically and comprehensively, supports caring classroom environments and helps develop positive relationships. SEL programming also provides students with varied skills that positively affect academicachievement. They include:
• managing emotions that interfere with learning
and concentration
• developing motivation and the ability to persevere
even in the face of academic setbacks
and challenges
• working cooperatively and effectively in the
classroom and in peer learning groups
• setting and working toward academic goals
For example, learning in a history class
improves markedly when students are taught to
use problem solving to understand and analyze a
historic event. Teaching students social and emotional
skills also makes them less likely to behave
in ways that interfere with learning.
What the Research Says
A substantial body of research supports the
notion that social and emotional variables are
integral rather than incidental to learning (Wang,
Haertel, and Walberg 1997). Wilson, Gottfredson,
and Najaka's meta-analysis (2001) of 165 studies
examined the effectiveness of various schoolbased prevention activities. Their study revealed that social and emotional learning programs increased attendance and decreased the dropout rate. Zins et al. (in press) found that SEL programs
Promoting Academic Achievement through Social and
Emotional Learning
by Katharine Ragozzino, Hank Resnik, Mary Utne-O'Brien, and Roger P.Weissberg
Katharine Ragozzino is a projects coordinator
at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and
Emotional Learning (CASEL). Hank Resnik is
the Director of Communications at CASEL.
Mary Utne-O'Brien is the associate director of
CASEL. Roger P.Weissberg is Professor of
Psychology and Education at the University of
Illinois at Chicago and the executive director
of CASEL.ission of the school, and
helping students address barriers that may be limiting their academic

— by Katharine Ragozzino, Hank Resnik, Mary Utne-O’Brien, and Roger P.Weissbe



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